If you’re facing allegations of mortgage fraud, know that the potential consequences can impact your financial and personal life for years. The most important thing to do is talk to a mortgage fraud lawyer immediately. The more you understand about your case, and the more quickly you act, the better your chance of getting a good outcome.
Are You Accused of Mortgage Fraud? Here’s What You Need to Do
1. Retain a Mortgage Fraud Lawyer
Mortgage fraud is both serious and extremely complex, with a maze of laws and regulations at both the state and federal levels. Navigating this requires someone with specialized knowledge. A general lawyer simply won’t do. For more information, click here.
Begin by researching lawyers who specialize in white-collar crimes in Texas. Look for attorneys with a track record in mortgage fraud cases specifically. Initial consultations, which are often free, can provide clarity about your situation. Once you have selected counsel, keep them in the loop about every aspect of your case.
Remember: while cost is a consideration, the implications of a conviction can be far-reaching and far more expensive than any lawyer’s fees. Investing in strong legal representation can pay dividends by safeguarding your future.
2. Learn the Specifics of Your Charge
Pinpointing the specific nature of the charges against you is important. Not only does this understanding help you communicate more effectively with your attorney, but it also enables you to start gathering the appropriate evidence and witnesses that might be vital for your defense. Here’s a breakdown of common mortgage fraud types and the initial actions you should consider:
This is when one falsifies documents or inflates their income to qualify for a loan. If you’re accused of this, you should immediately gather all income-related documents, including tax returns, payslips, and employment verification letters. Don’t forget freelance income or other sources of income that might not appear on a W-2 but which show that your income is what you claim.
This involves misrepresenting how you intend to use a property. If you claimed the property was to be owner-occupied but then used it as an investment, start by collecting any written communications or documents that clarify your actual intentions.
If you’re accused of manipulating property appraisals to inflate its value, it’s crucial to collect all the communications you’ve had with appraisal companies and any independent appraisals you may have.
If it’s alleged that you used a “straw buyer” or presented fake title documents, gather all correspondence you have related to the property transaction. Any proof of genuine transaction intentions can be valuable for you.
By identifying the type of mortgage fraud you’re accused of, you can strategically start the process of defending your actions and gathering the necessary proof to counteract the allegations.
3. Avoid Providing Statements
Anything you say, even if it’s intended to be in your defense, can be taken out of context and used against you in court. Statements you make without a proper understanding of the legal implications can inadvertently harm your position. If you’re approached by law enforcement, bank officials, any regulatory agency, or any other party about the allegations, politely decline to comment until your attorney is present.
Inform them that you are in the process of securing legal representation (or mention your attorney if you already have one) and request that all questions be directed there. Staying silent is not an admission of guilt: it’s a right designed to protect you. Always ensure you have legal representation when addressing the allegations to protect yourself against unintentional self-incrimination.
Potential Defense Strategies for Mortgage Fraud
There are several angles from which to approach a defense, but the specifics will always depend on the nature of the allegations and the evidence that’s presented. Here are some general strategies that you and your lawyer might use:
Highlighting Lack of Intent
One of the primary elements in successfully prosecuting someone for mortgage fraud is demonstrating that there was an intent to deceive. If you can show that any misrepresentations were unintentional or arose from genuine mistakes, this can be a compelling defense. In some cases, you may not be able to actually prove no intent, but you can undermine the prosecution’s ability to prove there was intent. The burden is on them to prove this.
Demonstrating Insufficient Evidence
As stated, the burden of proof rests with the prosecution. Your defense can focus on highlighting gaps, inconsistencies, or weaknesses in their evidence.
Showing Third-Party Involvement
Sometimes, the wrongdoing might be the result of a third party, like a broker or agent, doing something either without your knowledge or having lied to you about exactly what was being done. Proving that another party was responsible can shift the blame away from you.
Duress or Coercion
If you were forced or pressured into committing the alleged fraudulent activity, demonstrating this can be a viable defense strategy.
If you find yourself facing mortgage fraud accusations, remember that every situation is unique, so while the information presented here can be generally helpful, you’ll need your own qualified mortgage fraud attorney for the best result.